By Alex H. Nagler
In a report released by Stony Brook’s Center for Regional Policy Studies on August 5, it was announced that the university has an annual economic impact of nearly $5 billion dollars on the Long Island economy. The report found that the university is responsible for nearly 60,000 jobs on Long Island and makes up 4% of the total economy between Suffolk and Nassau Counties. Roughly 7.5% of all Suffolk County employees are employed through the university in one way or another, with the average full-time employee salary resting at $76,010, far greater than the regional average of $47,913.
The report details the positive economic impact the university has on the surrounding community, but can also be seen as an appeal to the state to invest more money on the youngest of its University Centers. In a time when the state budget is being tightened and things are up for cuts, it would appear that this report is timed to make a case for more spending on Stony Brook. One of the more startling conclusions comes from the figures on the net return on state investments. Stony claims that the $207.2 million in taxpayer funds that Albany allocates to Stony Brook can be seen in the $4.7 million impact on the Long Island economy, claiming that it represents a 2,300% return.
From this figure, the report claims that for every one dollar invested in Stony Brook University, the state sees $23 dollars in economic gain. Whether this will convince Albany and Governor Patterson to allocate more money to the SUNY system is unsure, but one thing to be noted is that recent talks of cuts only mentioned CUNY and not SUNY. President Kenny commented that “…Stony Brook represents one of the state’s best and savviest investments. With a return of over 2,000 percent, we’re the Warren Buffet of the SUNY system.”
The economic benefits are forecasted only to increase with the opening of the Research and Development Campus across the road from West Campus and the construction of the Center for Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology.
While some of the economic news is good news, it underscores the cuts that have been made to departments that have led to some areas being crippled in favor of frivolous allocations, like the Monorail Exploratory Fund.All building discussion has failed to mention the fact that, save the Humanities building, no academic buildings have been constructed or fully renovated for the past decade. Additionally, it neglects the petition addressing these points from concerned faculty, which aided in the retirement announcement of President Kenny.
Stony Brook wants to be the center of the SUNY system, and for some of the things it does, it deserves it. It certainly has the biggest impact of any Long Island school on the local economy and has the best medical facilities in the SUNY system. But until reports talk about a commitment from Albany to spend money on construction of new buildings or repair crumbling infrastructure, Stony Brook isn’t ready.In this budget climate, that commitment may not be coming for a long time.